These are exciting times for consumers as the world of money transfer is getting a facelift. In many parts of the world, for example, Kenya, the revolution begun years ago.
Imagine enjoying your consumer experiences in stores without the hassle of waiting in long lines or trying to make change for your grocery.
We are steadily marching towards an era where we will pay for goods strictly by using our mobile.
This is already helping many of Kenya’s poor, in far distant communities and is beneficial because of their devaluated dollar.
MPesa: Kenya Money via Mobile Services
Mobile money, the future of money transactions and M-pesa is along for the ride.
If this is a name that you are not familiar with, then know that “m” is for mobile and in Swahili “pesa” means money.
So, the name M-PESA sounds suitable.
Africans seem to have caught on and are ahead of the curve, with mobile money transfers. In Kenya, they have been using Mpesa for over ten years.
It is almost their main Kenya Money.
However, now the big brands in the digital world are crossing the great divide between the western hemisphere and the eastern hemisphere to give consumers a customer friendly and technological advance solution in money transfer.
Mobile Money Services
PayPal, Facebook and Google are a few of the brands that are launching mobile money initiatives.
They are making a push for their users to have digital wallets, via Smartphones. This would replace the need for using your checking account or withdrawing cash from your community ATM.
Imagine the savings on ATM fees!
iPhone users will be happy to learn that Apple is also in on this and are customizing their own product line to facilitate mobile money transfers.
These transitions are as easy as sending a text message.
Mobile Transactions in America vs. Kenya
The dominant mode is different in America.
Whereas in Kenya, M-Pesa isn’t linked to an account, in the States, our transactions come via a bank account. There is no need for credit cards or debit cards.
Imagine, no annual fees or transaction fees!
For a credit card, must build credit and banking institutions or lending agencies go through your credit history.
Not so for M-Pesa mobile money.
Kenya is the guinea pig of mobile money and they proved that this is a solid trend.
Kenya’s Poor and M-Pesa
We all know, poverty limits what you can accomplish in life.
In Kenya, this often means not having access to basic amenities such as light and water.
One solar power company thought about this situation and got involved, by using mpesa, to bring affordable power to many Kenyan citizens.
Before this, farmers relied on kerosene lamps to provide light in the dark nights.
Now they are able to see, courtesy of M-Kopa Solar lights.
Even though a single unit costs $20. A one off payment is far more than these farmers can afford. But, M-Kopa allows them to make monthly or daily payments of 40 cents.
And they do this from their cell phones.
No long lines at the bill payment centre. These rural folks, stay on their farms and with the click of a button, their bills are paid.
One of the biggest benefits of such convenience, one that we westerners take for granted, is that now their children can read and study at nights.
They can conduct other activities, which usually had to wait until the daylight hours.
With mpesa, these farmers’ lives have changed dramatically.
Another change for these farmers, is the ability to get water from a well close to the community, rather than hiking to distant rivers or shuttled in via donkey carts.
In Njogu-ini, it costs six dollars for a month’s supply of water. Once paid the pump is unlocked and the farmer gets his supply.
The level of poverty in Kenya is so severe that businesses today have to change their business model and operational plans to suit it.
In America, you can go into a supermarket, pay for several tubes of toothpaste and not bat an eyelash. In Kenya, poor people buy a squeeze of toothpaste, in the slums.
How then can they afford water and light, if the business model is not changed to accommodate them.
This is a lesson that companies like M-Kopa Solar and Safaricom have learnt.
This mobile company realized that while majority of Kenyan citizens did not have bank accounts, they had cell phones.
Therefore, to affect change in the country, Safaricom altered their phones to offer mobile money transactions.
This method of texting money altered the way Kenyans lived and did business.
M-Pesa enabled phones are not high tech at all. They use low-level technology to conduct transactions. Once users tops up at an Mpesa kiosk, they can use their phone to make payments.
There are more than 85,000 mpesa agents across the country.
Bankless banking brought to you by Safaricom.
Will we see such a smooth implementation in the West?
Let’s wait, watch and see.